Hot September Evening

Here, first, I know some of you become excited when you see this sort of thing.


This is how dogwoods do in fall.

And by the way, I don't care that some of you don't say fall. Like, whatever. We do. It's short for a very old expression, "fall of the leaves." It's nice.

It's thundering out, but we don't expect much rain. If we have some, it'll be all right because we're no longer continually overcome by it. True September weather is expected to begin around the 10th, and I'm so thankful for the reprieve. Last summer was kind of cold, and this one was mostly just wet and then not very hot until this past weekend. We are to have heat all week, and I am soaking it in.

Here are memories Facebook showed me for one year ago yesterday.

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No point in your trying to friend me there. You can find me easily and better at Google Plus or Twitter.

I haven't painted anything this summer, but learning to properly sew with the machine has been fun. Back when Mom knew me, I suppose she couldn't have imagined my favorite hobbies besides reading would be sewing, painting, and gardening. Cooking she might have guessed. But she didn't teach me everything she made in time, and I had to figure out some of it on my own. I was awkward as a young person, and as things came easily to her, I think she found me confusing. 

Yesterday when I was watering the pointless watermelon vines, and the peas and beans, I got to thinking about how it would be if I knew her all along up to now. It is a certainty I would not have my second child if my mother had not died when she did, and also I would not have endured some scary painful events. But I wouldn't trade second kid for the knowledge life would hurt less. It all came as sort of a weird package deal. Am I saying I wouldn't trade kid for Mom? That's too complex and silly to bother thinking through. What is, is.

I think Mom, still alive, would have passed through her very extreme religious era into something more...peaceable and open. It isn't wishful thinking; there'd be no point in that. It's just how she was, how many people are.

Big fat raindrops are drumming along the skylight now.

I think I'll make the olives tomorrow. I finally have it down pretty well after all these years.

Season's changing in the front, but in the back it's still summer for a little while longer.


Chatter about childhood and anti-heroes

The other day I was watching The Wild Bunch while coloring my hair. It isn't a favorite movie; a lot of violence and shouting, and the marginally likeable people all die. But it's a great film in many ways, and showed people the reality of mayhem in undeclared war, which previous westerns had either avoided or just touched on.

One concept that wasn't new but was just taking firm hold was the idea that sometimes the bad guys are more moral than the good guys. Sometime let's start to take up the difference between ethics and morality, and then change the subject for more shallow territory. Anyway. Holden's bunch certainly didn't have ethics on their side, but the groups of people working against them were largely immoral.

Oh, dear, please don't tell me in a Google Plus reply about how I did not perfectly state this because of some math that you know or something. I just couldn't bear it this week. Take my meaning, instead. In fact, always do that. I'm fingerpainting here; it's what I do.

The "anti-hero" was my hero from the moment I discovered him. Yes, him. They were all male, and at the time, it made sense that they were. They were mostly late 19th-early 20th century mavericks who bucked increasingly systemized thought and the people who used those systems to take advantage of weakness in others.

So many people relate to those characters and (often sheepishly) look up to them, yet in everyday life, and in what passes for the democratic process, they remain lazy or contented to let the hand-rubbing money barons run things for them. I've never understood that. It upsets me greatly, so I'm going to change the subject, only slightly.


I loved playing sheriff and also holding up the bank that was also my tree where later I talked to Jesus after I had First Communion and felt like a direct line should be established. When I was sheriff, I wore a denim vest with a tin star pinned to it that my mother made from layers of aluminum foil. But a neighbor complained there was nothing under the vest, and though I was five, this was apparently terrible.

Let's pause for a moment and reflect on a (very) large rural yard in 1970. If you are part of the always online generation, you can't begin to understand about that, and I want you to pay attention. It was a sweet wholesome life for a little kid. There were probably about as many nutballs per 100 as ever there have been, but they very rarely counted in our lives, because we did not have the world wide web telling us they were everyone except ourselves. What could you see beneath my vest in 1970? A narrow bit of skin between the two sides. And arms. Far, far less than any typical bathing suit of the time would display. But this person perceived something more. And what I want you to understand is that the person with the perception was the one I needed protection against. People who think five year-olds in play vests are on sexual display are akin to fundamentalists who never let siblings see a baby undressed. They have creepy attitudes about humanity and you should never pander to them.

But Mom didn't let me wear the vest alone anymore, and I've always hated layers, feeling trapped by sleeves and fabric clinging to my neck except during a brief Annie Hall fashion obsession a few years later, so I became a full time bank robber for awhile. I had money bags with fake bills in them of tremendous denominations, and six shooters with caps to stop anyone who tried to catch me. People who interfere with other people's happiness and dignity easily stood in for the bad good guys, and I tended to picture them like Jackie Gleason, which is nicely prescient toward Smokey and the Bandit, I do think. Or like Hamilton Burger, the D.A. in Perry Mason. He wasn't bad, but he was totally annoying, always assuming rotten motivations based on superficialities.

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I'd build escalating stories in my head about someone who was in trouble for being misunderstood, and being taken advantage of because of it, and I'd rescue them between bank jobs, and give them some of the money.

There's no point to any of this, in case you've been looking for one. I just wanted you to know I haven't really ever changed much. When I was younger, I was usually filled with some sort of moral outrage toward people who behaved either from selfish motivations, or from lazy assessments of something without regard for the bigger picture, and whatever lies beneath their first glance. People who thought how they felt about something mattered more than whatever was actually there. Now, I'm just weary of it all.


Hey, as a sort of aside, are you a fairly clever person, but kind of linear, (which is okay, but I mean, balance, and so forth,) and you make a sort of joke or half-serious statement perhaps to make a point, and someone like me replies in a way that takes you off balance and so your initial assumption because you took (me) literally is that (I) didn't understand what you meant, and so you explain the joke, kind of ruining the whole thing for both of "us?" I'm sorry I never really get that about you, and I'll try harder to match my communication style to yours sometimes, be less oblique, etc., but also, I think you should be aware that this makes it seem like you think you are smarter than everyone, and that simply cannot be true, especially on the internet, where everyone's IQ is either 132 or 146, and also, there's maybe a pinhole in your intellect where lateral thinking resides. Just food for thought. You could maybe just put your finger over it.


How I Bought My Movie

You might have worked out that I like James Bond films a whole lot. I like each of them in and for their own era. Roger Moore's James Bond inhabited the grown-up world I was partial witness to. Pierce Brosnan's Bond inhabited the grown-up world in which my view was expanded. Daniel Craig's Bond exists between all that and a somewhat better world we're all trying to say we belong in.

On Saturday, the ION channels had a marathon of Bond films from GoldenEye through Quantum of Solace. Four Pierce Brosnans and two Daniel Craigs. The Judy Dench Years. I had them on while I did stuff, because I was oddly and pleasantly alone for much of the day. I fell asleep during Casino Royale, but of course I've seen it a billion times. Yesterday evening I watched the recording of Quantum of Solace, and then went straight to Netflix for Skyfall. It was not there.

It wasn't there? Now I know why (more on that in a minute,) but yesterday that was annoying, because it was on there for a long time.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I miss my blog. I have some ideas for refreshing it all, going to get to that, but in the meantime I wanted to type things and tell people stuff.

Last night I looked on Amazon. Various configurations of Skyfall were between 13-16 dollars. I didn't really want just a digital copy, and it wasn't even available to rent for $2.99. (In a minute.)

Today we looked it up at the library and both blu-rays were checked out. One DVD was lost, the other damaged. I went up to Target, because I felt suddenly as though this was an imperative. No copies. No Bond at all, actually.

The phone doesn't work very well at Target, but I looked at No results. Desperate, I went to Their copies all said September 15 pre-order, except one for $23. But that wouldn't be available til Friday. also said September pre-order, so I decided they were repackaging it before Spectre, and now I know it's being re-released in special steel boxes. Pre-order at Best Buy, a place I didn't think to call. Meijer, Walmart, and Best Buy are all together in a dreadful area for traffic known as Eastgate; big nonsensical highway project been going on forever. But also in that area is the mall, and my son suggested we call a store there called FYE. And they had a used DVD for $9.99. So I seriously went to the mall to get it. The store is near an entrance, so no actual malling had to be done. Mission accomplished.


Netflix and others would be made to pull it before a new release so that people will, you know, buy it instead. I just had bad timing. But I don't buy much new or for full price (this is my heritage) unless it's extra special, so this is okay by me.

I'll be honest. A whole lot of why I'm into it lately is for the Tom Ford of it all, et all, and also etcetera. I'm shallow like that. But also, spies and stuff. I saw two spy movies at the theater this summer: Spy and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I love spy movies.

I'm gonna go watch my new used movie now. I have plans to do more with this page, that I hope will be enjoyable to others.


PS: No. I said I buy things used or at a discount. I don't pay nothing for something still easily available other ways. This is how we keep having nice things.

Inundating Hunger

There are just seven posts here from this year, on a smattering of subjects. I haven't really been at peace for awhile, and have had little energy to expend on it, is the largest part of the truth. The rest is that the immediacy of places like Google Plus creates a need for less effort. But I like the effort, and of all the things I do on the web, this remains my favorite. I wish it could be more interactive, but other people prefer the immediate routes these days, and I certainly can't fault them for it.

This month, however, I plan to just blitz this space with all manner of sense and nonsense. Perhaps a few people will follow along. I'm also in a tricky spot; I pay for extras here, which I might probably need to let go. But if I do, I am not certain I will be given back the free plus a bonus version I had before. The bonus bit really mattered to me. We will see.

Here's some stuff I've collected in Ulysses; a neat writing and organizing application I use on this computer. It isn't actually very well organized, though. That takes mental energy, which is currently in short supply.

Stuff strangers said today that made me laugh:

"If you want actual black tea you'll have to use a British brand"

“fisher run you fat bastard hey you think Putin is paying obama clinton fisher back Italy did say terrorism will hit usa”

Stuff I wanted to say at various times, but didn't:

Here's the plain truth,
Mr. Monkey McBean,
what you do is what counts
and not what is seen.

A person is a person. I’ve never thought otherwise, or readily assumed others thought otherwise; assumptions are dangerous tools in the hands of the self-righteous and paranoic extremists of the world, divisively soundbiting their way through life.

You might do well to remove the filter from your lens. I’m not the appurtenant focus of either your judgment or your concern.

Stuff other people said in a comment section about a really lame article trashing Alfred Hitchcock:

View the films with their cultural/ historical context in mind; realise they're thrillers, so extraordinary people and behaviour are to be expected, and marvel at their technical brilliance.

Don't insult our intelligence as an audience.
I don't watch his films to get a balanced picture of humanity. I watch them to see stories told by someone who understands guilt, jealousy, rage and who knows how to put them together cinematically.

Bits of thing I might turn into a poem sometime:

You felt it in waves
pulsing energy
hydronic force

Tip to tip
Our fingers shocked by vibration
Quivering, we pull apart
Distance regained
Sadly, safely, in silent relief.

Oppressive heat so thick you could see it
He applied and wore
like a suit
Or a glamour
drawing me to him like a blossom to sunshine

The steam from his pores
Clouded my vision
Blindly I followed his lead
Coaxed by the scent of fervid nectar
and a mouth that tasted sweet like sin

More than you want to know about how I feel these days:

Before this (past) autumn, I simply reacted to mold, cold, and ammonia, beginning after being laid up in bed for several weeks in 2002 above a very old leaky moldy basement. For the first couple of years, breathing trouble was intermittent, but year-round, in rain or old places. That was in Central New Jersey. After that, it became strictly a winter problem, unless I encountered cat urine, or mold. Late spring to mid-autumn, I feel good by comparison. Cold damp air bothers me most these days. For the past four years, I have been half laid up all winter; it's gotten worse since moving to Ohio in 2011. But instead of building up through late autumn, this (past) year it started all in an instant, at the end of September. I was out of breath on the stairs, exhausted at every turn, heart palpitating. Singulair and Flovent, which I began taking in November, one or both have helped with that, but I still become short of breath often, and cough several times a day. Finally, seemingly because of this problem, I have gained nearly 20 lbs over the past three winters.

I have had bronchitis half a dozen times since age eleven. And I cannot take penicillin, opiates, or narcotics. They all come back swiftly and violently. In 2009, I used Advair for several months, but it made my heart race.

Partial diagnosis:

(I want to point out I wrote the above several months ago. Circumstances leading to current understanding were somewhat changed and more clearly defined.) Severe Vitamins B12 and D deficiency. But the reason for that is still in question. I'm having B12 shots and sunshine, at least, I'm having the shots and if the sun comes back, I'll have some of that, too.

Quotation from the first Nero Wolfe book, Fer-De-Lance, 1934:

“You know, Mr. Townsend, it is our good fortune that the exigencies of birth and training furnish all of us with opportunities for snobbery. My ignorance of this special nomenclature provided yours; your innocence of the elementary mental processes provides mine.”

Cosi fan tutte, Act One, with Batman and Superman:

Batman and Superman are hanging out on the boardwalk having some sushi, when Vickie Vale and Lois Lane walk by on their way to…meet a crooked politician they plan to expose. Anyway. They all meet and are instantly in love and engaged to be married. Because it’s an opera. But then Batman and Superman have to go fight evil in…Shanghai, and so Vickie brings Lois back to her penthouse and they are bummed and drink Cosmos while Barbara Gordon, who lives in the other penthouse for no suitable reason says they should just live it up while those guys are gone.

Meanwhile, Batman and Superman are now chilling in the Batcave waiting for the Batplane to be serviced so they can leave, and Alfred’s all, “You guys. They’re totally not going to be faithful to you. And you can prove it by pretending you aren’t you and forcing them to be attracted to your alter egos instead.” Only how an old British man would say that. But Batman and Superman aren’t so into that, until Alfred Skypes with Barbara and talks her into helping him set up the fiancees. And then Batman and Superman skip saving Shanghai and go out as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent to seduce Vickie and Lois, who have each had three Cosmos by this time.

Baubles, Bangles, and Beads

I went into Hancock Fabrics this morning because although I want to collect some vintage fabric to sew with, I thought I might find some in a vintage style for my new crazy quilt project. I hit the jackpot; there were many bolts of clearance prints, and they reminded me of what old people wore when I was little, so then I thought, hey, there's my crazy quilt theme: Throwback to 70s Childhood.

And so I bought ten 1/4 yard pieces plus fourteen skeins of embroidery floss for just about $11 after all the discounts and coupons. DSC_0759This allowed me to indulge in some sale buttons, as well. Anyway. That’s not the thing.

When I walked in, these clearance bolts were right in the front, and I saw one I just loved. I remarked to the woman straightening them that I found it beautiful but knew I had no use for it. If my sewing machine hadn’t declared war on me, I could have done something with it, but it wasn’t a hand sewing kind of fabric and design. Anyway, she saw me slinging bolts into a cart and told me where I’d find more. I’m sure it worried her I was going to mess up her neat reorganization, but I know just how that feels and so I trod lightly along the path.

I’d sent Aaron over to Kroger to pick up a few things while I was in the fabric store, because it’s a final exam day so his schedule is not really one, and then he came in to watch me sorting through buttons. Because of him I chose owls rather than dragonflies, which apparently menace him, and then I sent him to the cutting table with the cart full of fabric bolts, so I could finish looking around. He will be a superb shopping husband someday. The same woman was cutting the fabric when I got there, and listened to me chatter on to Aaron about silly things. I told him Livvy said the newer sewing machines adjust tension themselves, “with wizardry or witchcraft, magical workings, I dunno,” and she stopped cutting and said, “It’s a computer chip.”

I laughed and carried on in my slightly demented mood. I told her my sewing machine and I are warring, and then mentioned to him I hate to buy a new one because mine could kill someone if I picked it up and hurled it at them. He wondered just how far you could hurl it if it weighs so much, and I said, “The point is, I am just old enough to think things should weigh a lot or they aren’t any good.”

Then I pointed out a very fancy machine which does everything and said, “I can bowl.” He laughed. “And I dig in dirt. This is not for me. But I used to be such an early adopter of technology, I don’t know what happened.”

And I knew she was still listening, cutting ten things, so I told him about the town in West Virginia where there is no wifi, and how Time magazine says people are addicted to their iPhones in a peculiar way, and we talked about how we use our phones. I’d be uncomfortable without mine, sure that someone would have an accident if they couldn’t call to tell me they’re fine. But otherwise, meh. I’m over this stuff.

As we were checking out, the woman asked if I had the latest flyer, and I hadn’t seen it, so she found three coupons in it for me to use, and explained over and over again how I need to keep an eye out for those, and I realized, “she thinks I am truly an idiot after all she’s heard.” This amused me. She went over it all again, patiently, but in a very neutral tone; one type of coupon has changed. And I shouldn’t worry about bringing in more than I can use, because the computer recognizes dumb things and won’t allow them to make mistakes. “Not that we’re what’s dumb,” she added with no expression, realizing she was speaking aloud to a human being. I smiled and nodded and thanked her at each appropriate turn, COMPLETELY RELATING to how she felt trying to help a clearly witless person save money and do things the right way.

I mentioned that to Aaron as we walked to the car, and all he could say was, "I had to walk away because she kept saying "cyoo-pon."

But I am now thinking of her fondly, an ISTJ who is probably exhausted by the end of each day, rearranging things, sighing over the inefficiency of her boss, and helping people press the red X on the card pad because it doesn’t do debit, but all in all, it’s probably a pretty good job to have most days in your 60s, and I hope she has a rewarding time of it.


Explaining Me

I woke up with “Elmer’s Tune” in my head on this terrifically bright day. Not Kansas City winter bright, but certainly Cincinnati winter bright. My bedroom and “atelier” windows face east, so it’s warm and cheery in here for now. The light warm blue walls are so much more comfortable than the umber color I put up with for three years.

DSC_0672the young one agrees

So, time to get out my picnic blanket quilt project I started last winter. I’d cut muslin and many fabric triangles, and sewed 1/4 of the triangles before gardening beckoned. But today, the summery blues and reds seemed dissatisfying. I have another piece of muslin that is 36x54, and wondered what I might do with it. But I couldn’t do nothing with the other project; that felt too fickle. I laid out the triangles and began pinning them to the muslin with tiny pieces of fusible web. You iron this between fabrics and they stick together. DSC_0678(1)
While placing and ironing, I thought about a book I might listen to. Or maybe an old movie or TV show in the background. I continued on in silence, though. I thought maybe I’m in a “homefront” mood, or maybe up for Wodehouse. Suddenly I had a vision in my head of being near the escalator of Montgomery Ward at the Blue Ridge Mall in Kansas City. This happens as you start advancing in years. I cannot remember the last time I was there, probably 1987 or so, but I saw it perfectly.

I seem to know all the words to “Elmer’s Tune,” and I enjoy it rolling through my head, but I haven’t turned it on because I’m having some sort of ear/sinus trouble, the tinnitus is worse than usual, and nothing sounds right. “What makes a lady of eighty go out on the loose, what makes a gander meander in search of a goose, what puts the kick in a chicken, the magic in June, it’s just Elmer’s tune.”

Nobody writes like that anymore. They haven’t since before I was born. The words were just part of the music, of course, not intended to mean anything that mattered.

Back in the 70s, Mom sewed calico chickens, in various sizes. She’d found a pattern in a magazine and went bonkers for it, making them from tiny to quite large, and giving them away. It wasn’t much longer until we saw them for sale, not as attractive as hers, for quite a bit of money. Mom’s life went that way, and mine tends to, as well. I had this great idea about a decade ago after we first got Netflix, for all kinds of monthly subscriptions people could sign up for, that would be mailed to them, like little craft kits or gift baskets, toiletry samples, that kind of thing. I couldn’t get anyone else interested in the idea. They sure are now, though.

I’m doing most of my sewing by hand, because I like the slow quiet nature of it. I’ve spent too much of my life in a hurry, and even though I might have to again soon, I just don’t want to anymore. When you’re in a hurry, things don’t taste or smell or feel as good. Our huge array of conveniences have begun to bore me. I quite like contemporary plumbing, paying bills online, and having books I want to read appear on my Kindle Fire. I love having the Met Opera streamed to my movie theater. There’s just too much of everything else, though, and it all comes too easily. I am continually seeking balance between ease and effort.

I remembered that of course I can work on an old and new project at once, and I gave myself permission to do so. I used to worry about being the sort of person who would start things and not finish them. Well, that was about deadlines, which are not good friends of mine. I don't have any deadlines for these things; I do them wholly for myself. It's exciting to start something new. It feels rewarding to finish. And the middle, while sometimes monotonous, is more often a kind of reward of its own; meditative and rhythmic. It's fun, therefore, to start and finish small projects while working through the middle of a larger one. That's the best way for me.

PS: I was looking for pictures of Wards and it got kind of depressing kind of quickly. And then seeing a photo of The Landing, and a King Louie Bowl ad, I grew too nostalgic to carry on. But here are a couple little things.

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Post PS: Here's the song.

Then I just shouldn't have named him Jack, is the thing.

I never meant for my ongoing story character Jack D’Abruzzo to become my Lord Peter. I inserted deliberate flaws from the beginning, eight or nine years ago. He never used his broadcast degree; he lives with his mother and owns a donut shop. He’s previously always dated women who are way too young for him. He started out goofy and kind of manic. But I let him be the theatre director and then I let him buy the building, and then I let him grow interested in Violet, who is not that much like me, but is something like I’d probably be if I never had children.

But now he’s stuck in my head all the time, and since I made him up, well, that’s super awkward. I thought he could be handsome like Russ Columbo, but I didn’t want him compared to an idiot, plus, he wouldn’t be because no one knows who that is and I probably already use too many arcane references. Maybe like Jerry Vale, but with less face in his face. But more like one of those guys who is just perfectly pleasant and ordinary-looking until he hits the late 30s and suddenly has a strength to his face that nobody saw coming except maybe his mother, because she married the guy he resembles an awful lot. Maybe kind of like Perry Como only four inches taller, because I really don’t feel like overthinking this.

Although, I have to wonder at myself for thinking only of singers. His mother’s maiden name was Cassotto, so I guess it turns out like if Alan Alda and Bobby Darin had a baby, and that doesn’t really bear consideration, does it? It doesn’t matter. I describe him only as over 45, about 5’ 10”, black hair with threads of silver, and reasonably fit. That’s good enough, enough.

Anyway. I’ve resisted just handing him over to Violet, but it isn’t quite reasonable that all these characters in their late 40s all stay single. They can’t just up and get married, though. His mother still needs him, but there’s no way she could live in Violet’s old Victorian mansion. And why would I make Violet leave that place? I would not do that to her.

Maybe my personal ideal is that sort of relationship. They’re firmly together, but drift in and out of each other’s houses as they like. If I had my own house all those years, I might resent someone else taking up permanent space in it. And that house has been in her family since it was built in the 1860s, so it has to be lived in. If you don’t live in a house, Nature tries to claim it for its own. So I think Violet can have Jack in her own way and Jack can have Violet in what I have masterfully deemed pretty much the same way, and bits of me will find rest in that, for now.  

Well, I guess I’ve worked a couple things out so that I can carry on. But I want the computer to just shut right down if I start having him quote Wilde for his own.

Okay, Jack can look like Matteo Garrone, only I’ve let him keep his hairline for now. He's pointlessly vain about it. 

Redefining the Middle: a tale of before and after

That's what I'm calling this painting. And yes, I am aware I do this "blogging" thing out of order. I hope you like to check in, anyway. You will like the next sets of trip photos, as they involve interesting things.

I first painted this canvas about five years ago. It could even have been six. Definitely more than four. And I never used black paint again, until yesterday. It had been going along well, then turned all mooshy and flat on me, and I set it aside. (Unfortunately, this photo makes it look even flatter than it is; it actually did have some depth and texture going for it.) Insidebefore

But when we were in Princeton, we checked out an abstract and expressionist art exhibit, and I was reminded of it. The Person With Art Degree had a look and told me it needed definition in the flat black, and he's been also encouraging me to be more bold with the textures I like to add in. So yesterday I bought a little tube of heavy body Mars Black, got out my modeling stuff and the high gloss varnish, and went for it. Outsideafters(My philosophy, if I can be said to have one, is that another touch of vermillion never did any harm.)

And then there was a conversation this morning as he wandered by:

Him: ::enter::
Me: ::holding up thing:: Look! It's better now, right?
Him: Yes, you have the shiny and flat surfaces now, the contrast it needed.
Me: Well, I think maybe it's actually good. I mean, I quite like it.
Him: Then it is. That's the only thing that matters.
Me: Well, no, I don't know that. What if I wanted to show a group of them because I thought so, but actually, people would be like, are you kidding me with this?
Him: You're ridiculous.
Me: No, you've just always been a real artist and you don't understand.
Him: It's like Christopher Columbus, when told the world was flat.
Me: What? No. They thought the world was much smaller, not flat.
Him: Still, he knew he was right.
Me: Are you comparing me to him? Because first of all, not proving it wasn't flat, and second, he was just a truly terrible person. He did horrible things. I don't know how that relates to my paintings at all.
Him: If you like them, they're good. ::Exit::

So, you know, I could be wholly delusional, but that's fine. My delusions are all that matter. I hang them only on my own walls, after all, like a child's drawings on a refrigerator: no harm done to others.

Windmills of my Mind: a Birthday Countdown Post

See, I wrote about four posts in my head that you never saw. One was written in my head a few nights ago when I suddenly couldn't sleep, which is super weird, because sleep is one of the things I do best. It was all about my career in being best at math in school and then being left behind because of some pretty weird educational "experiment," so that when it came time to help my son learn the Law of Cosine, I just basically failed.

And then I went to my notes on the desktop to search for the things I'd been planning to share about the number 49 (which I will now do on Wednesday,) and found the following, instead:

1. Those who consider the pre-determined gender title of male part of their general natural or established makeup: there are these men, though (whoops, sorry, I do not have the exact precise up-to-the-moment percentage, but assume I don't mean you, and I'm ever so sorry if somehow you might think I did mean you, instead of specifically to whom I'm actually referring,) who are feeling the contemporary effects of women getting along pretty well in life without seeking out a "steady date," husband, or even occasional lover, like {that one specific guy she mentioned but also x others where x=>0 but <all} and they really want to talk to a woman, but don't know how, so they "kid" her about her smile or lack of one, and so forth. They tend to be of (but not 100% inclusive of) a certain generation. When I was "young and pretty," I encountered it often (by which I mean rather more often than never, but not precisely all of the time,) and found it creepy, yet I had the understanding they didn't realize how off-putting it was.

2. lamp, potato battery, extension cord,

3. it okay for someone to say, "Everybody knows the Chinese can't even sew on buttons?" Perhaps if she'd said, "It's my belief Chinese products are awful," that'd be somewhat less rude.

Do you desire context? Too bad.

On Saturday, I did the unthinkable and set my blanket in an area for baseball viewing where I'd be around other actual people, and had some general conversation with one, sort of two. I showed you a phone pic of me that day, but good lord, the phone was like, "let's make a caricature of you, just for kicks!" And what I'm saying is that I looked pretty good that day, but I'm also going to be terrible and say this isn't really difficult in relative terms, because what I do is what I don't do. I don't wear ill-fitting man t-shirts with funny sayings on them, or old "athletic" shoes, or the adult version of Garanimals from 1989. I wear contemporary clothing suited to my age and figure, and attractive coordinating footwear, which I remove as soon as possible. And surely you know about my pretty feet by now. They are the stuff of legend. This is in part because I almost never wear shoes, but also, Raphael.*

And so this man, whose son needs help correcting his swing and some time at the batting cages to improve his timing, ends up whispering to me, "Are you still married?" This after I'd done that thing I do, practically given him and his...younger relative a satellite view of where I live, how we'd ended up there, and more, because if you ask me questions in person, I either demure like you're a spy hunter, or I tell you everything ever. However, I never think to ask like questions in return, because I don't care about any of your mundane details, even though if we were on a "date," I would be polite and ask you about your job and pretend it's fascinating. If we were talking at baseball, though, my conversation would be about baseball. Poor Mr. Polomsky failed with me.

And where was I? Oh, yes. I said, "Mmhmm." And then he whispered, "Oh, I saw you weren't wearing your wedding ring."

So I answered somewhat loudly,"Yes, I'm still married. It is actually very Facebook complicated, but mainly, I don't think my ring fits anymore."

And he told me he is in fact no longer married anymore, so therefore he wondered. And then ran away.

If you've read the entire 700 words up to now, you can see why that's always for the best.

*No, but yes. I receive many compliments on my feet, regularly, when I'm out and about places. If they appear in a photo I share on Google+ which is actually supposed to be about the ovarian arrangment of items on the cover of a Nero Wolfe book, someone has to comment on that instead of pondering if that's the reason police officers' hats are smaller these days. And the point is, my mama would talk about how important it was to make really proper shoe selection, because her father, who hand-fashioned orthopedic shoes as his trade, insisted upon it. But that's not actually the point at all. Maybe if I had not been born with incredibly attractive feet, I'd have taken less care to ensure they were never misshapen by poorly designed footwear. They don't make up for having lost out in the dental lottery, though.

Here is your reward for in case you read that entire thing. I was going to share the one with "Bob and Donna's" wedding, because wow did Bob lay a kiss on her. But it was too melancholy.


Okay, so where was I?

Funny how that one day with Typepad Down just as I was establishing the every morning blog habit set me back so completely I was marathoning old episodes of Midsomer Murrrrhdhers before I even knew what happened to me. So, and then I was very busy all day today and tonight I found myself inexplicably involved in three different "social media" networks before I took hold of myself, and here we are. I woke up with "Divine Thing" by the Soup Dragons in my head, but that was just ages ago. And we waited all day for a storm that finally just sort of limped its way through like a silver-haired devil in a '71 Cutlass who couldn't even be bothered to swallow that pill, because he was into the road trip and didn't feel like stopping by after all.

This morning I pissed off, like, eight people at Google Plus, not people I consider friends, but friends of? Kind of ruthless at them with their lack of sense-making until I wised up and started cooking stuff instead. I should have a little strip to apply to my skin which would change colors depending on how patient I could be at a given time with other people who feel the need to broadcast stuff better kept in their heads. Like those temperature strips we put on babies before the 3 second thermometer was invented. An early warning system.

I took some really nice photos of flowers today, and the opera tickets arrived, and I noticed a bit of color on two of the Indigo Rose tomatoes, but I'm not sure they are at their optimal size yet, so that might not be great. It's weird for there to be tomatoes this early, but I'm just going with it. I figure a few can come early if they like, then the others will appear around the time they're actually meant to.

This turned out interestingly, I think.



It took too long to come up with a title

I will now tell you about my morning so far, which has been carrying on in the active state for about 40 minutes, but there was some semi-awake time in bed, during which I noted my sheets really are terribly comfortable, there appears to be a reprieve from rain, and my ears are...stopped up? I don't know what you call it. It's sinus-ness. I'm not a very sinusy person, not a mouth breather or anything like that, and when I get a cold it heads straight for my throat and chest. So this here is very weird and I am standing up and saying, I don't like it!

We aren't much for medication here, though I keep the basic pain relievers around, but I remembered there is a box of our favorite meth lab ingredient, for when the boys have colds because they do get the sinus, and so I took some. Now I'm waiting for it to do the thing it does.

Did you want to know all that? I was certain you did. Also, the song "The Stand" by Mother Mother is wandering through my head. Yesterday morning it was the Charlatans' "Arise Arise." Both good songs.

So I pondered this ear thing for awhile. I have tinnitus, so my first thought was, "aren't things quite weird enough to be going on with as it is?" And I entertained the idea of not being able to hear outside noises for awhile, however, it was clear that I can. It would be frightening at first to not be able to hear anymore, I expect. It isn't like if the electricity goes out and some of the humming just stops for awhile, which nearly happened yesterday. We heard a giant boom, and one of the kids said there was a flash, and for a split second, electricity noise stopped, but then there it was again, which is a better thing than not, all around.

But a tiny part of me always hopes for a power outage now and then, just to hear the silent air.

I made some coffee. At home, I add sugar and cream. When out somewhere if I have it, I use only half and half or cream and no sugar. And I feel bad about the sugar at home, only I created such a perfect balance of flavor. So I'm trying to adjust it down little by little. My reasoning is that if I eventually cut it in half, say, by next week, what on earth gives me the idea I couldn't cut that in half? And so forth. I use a mug which contains two cups of coffee, but then I don't have any more the rest of the day, because that's what water is for. And the morning is about the brightness of flavor and mouth feel. Tea doesn't do the same thing, even with cream in it. I never add sugar to tea.

It took twenty minutes to type all that, and it will take a few minutes more to add something someone might want to look at, and then this little exercise will be concluded. But I'm in a typey mood today and it is cold out, so this could happen again.

Two photos; first, the Eastgate Hellmouth at the point I was stopped one day recently. 20140508_172000-PANO
And my son last night at Olive Garden. We hadn't been there in a long time, but it's a good place to take hungry boys now and then. They have a sort of tapas menu now and then so I tried some of it. It wasn't bad; still a bit on the salty side.


It's been 45 minutes since I took the Costco "sudafed." It feels...slightly better, I think.


Hey, I wasn't just wasting all this time, though. I had a scintillating text conversation about Enneagram, in which I tried, but partly failed, not to be rude. It led to the wrong sorts of thoughts about two of my favorite Davids; Lynch and Byrne. And so forth. Life as we hardly make it some days. I'm going to make the rest of this one with some acrylic paint, I think, and loving care toward pepper plants. And aim to take pleasure in all the usual old things.

Night at the opera

The Met Live in HD streaming performance of Così fan tutte had its encore Wednesday night, and all the cool kids were there. The cool kids were: a couple sitting in the row in front of me who were old enough that they probably call themselves old, and a man sitting several rows behind me who was...five-ten years older than me. Well, and me. I was wearing light grey ankle cropped pants with a sleeveless drape top in white, red, and black print, and my black two piece flat shoes.

That was it. There are usually a couple dozen people who attend the live stream on Saturday afternoon, but I was unable to do so. And clearly that isn't the cool crowd.

As I was attending this one alone, I left home early enough to get a snack and settle in before the lights went down. One of the pleasures of being me is that I am always on time without ever being in a hurry. But I should have prepared better for the snack. My choices were the movie theater nachos, hot dogs, pizza or popcorn, or Wendy's, or Target. Normally I'd have chosen something from Target, however, protein was calling my name, and I went into Wendy's for a spicy chicken sandwich.

I'm glad I went inside to order it instead of using the drive-thru. First, if you say no lettuce or mayo, keep the tomato, add onion and pickle, without looking someone directly in the eyes, you don't have any idea what you might get. But second, the people in front of me. Two women and a man. The older woman was fumbling through her order, trying to remember what she likes and how it comes, and the man was coaxing her along. It was interesting to watch. She was tall, with grey hair, and a firm but gentle countenance. The other woman was short and had dyed black hair, and was wearing a considerable amount of makeup; the snowbird variety. The man was...every man around age 70. Pleasant. After I ordered, we were all waiting together, and the older woman took a french fry off the partially assembled tray. He told her, "You just stole that woman's french fries. Those are hers." And then he had to repeat himself so she heard.

She was so astonished, I had to tell her they weren't mine, because I didn't order french fries. Then I apologized to him for ruining the joke. Chuckles all around. They were chuckles because it was a group thing; combined age of the four of us outstripping everyone in the building. But I brought the average down more than I realized, as the tiny woman told me, "Can you believe it? She's going to be 80 soon." Well, I couldn't believe it if I hadn't heard her try to order. She hardly looked 70, and that's not just me getting older. The nearly 80 year-old said, "Well, she's nearly 69." They were all happy about this, so I said, "I think you both look terrific." The younger one said, "She sure does; she doesn't look 80."

And then they took their trays as the man said something about eating there every Wednesday. And okay, these two women looked the same age, but they both looked about 65. So that was nice.

The self-serve kiosks at the theater were not working! Nor was anyone at the ticket sales area. Tickets were being sold by the manager at customer service. Benefit of this was that he knew to hand me the printed program notes, and pointed out I saved a couple dollars by coming to the encore. I sat in the first full row of the main section of seats, with the small old couple in the forward row where there's room for wheelchairs and things. Renee Fleming did the introductions, and that's good; I like her hosting best. Just as the lights went down, the other man came in and sat near the back.

The duets and sextets were basically perfect, and also as we watched Levine direct the overture, it was easy to see how much he loves it and knows it. And I really liked the set design; it was simple but not too stark, no long fussy interruptions, and the singers interacted with it all organically, which sometimes added to the comedy, but wasn't distracting. It felt young and light, which I appreciated. It was not what you'd call perfect overall, just good to listen to, and very entertaining. The arias in Così are mostly simple to follow, yet quite engaging. Mozarty. Also, I am now a fan of the enchanting Danielle de Niese. I hope to see her in something again soon.

During the second act, the old couple moved down to the back row of the front section of seats. I felt adrift at first, but I didn't take it personally. However, the man several rows back, whose appearance I did not notice as tall and sharp with a good profile, suddenly began enjoying himself immensely. He laughed aloud at least a dozen times, at actual funny moments, so that wasn't annoying, plus, he had a very pleasurable laugh to hear. At one point he left for a minute, and when he returned, I did not notice the shirt he was wearing as he passed by.

At the end, the old couple stood to leave before the bows, and he waved, first to me, so I waved in return, and then he waved to the man in the back. This delighted me. I had the sudden sense that we really had all been watching it together somehow, one of those energy in the air things you get, like at an extra innings baseball game.  So then the two of us were in the theater together, watching the curtain calls like we were watching for Robert Downey Jr. to dig into his chicken shawarma.

And so naturally, I called a kid on the phone the moment I stood up, and had a conversation with him all the way to the car, in front of the tall man with the pleasant laugh who got into a four door Acura in the row across from me. He might have had very nice grey hair, cut just as I like hair to be cut on a man, but I didn't notice.

Recording a conversation for posterity

Because I truly believe it's right to be good to people and wish for others to be good to people, without any particular agenda or political view.

via +Annie Yim

Young Persons. It's not difficult to not say these things, for a native speaker of English. You have a big broad language from which to work. And when you speak positively, you think and act more positively. Take your verbal cues from people you can respect.
+Al Herrera originally shared:
Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 10.10.10 AM


Brittany Constable
Yesterday 11:00 AM
There's actually some argument that "pussy" in this sense refers to a feline (see also "scaredy cat") and not slang for genitals.

Lily Alice
Yesterday 11:03 AM
In terms of etymology, I suspect that's so. Something to do with being "pussy-footed," sly and quiet, etc.

In current usage, however, this doesn't seem to be the case, unfortunately. There are quite a few more terms in which the opposite happened; it was just terribly ugly to begin with, and became neutralized over the years.

Brittany Constable
Yesterday 11:40 AM

Very true. It's annoying when interesting words get corrupted.

Mycroft Holmes
6:49 AM

I note that in the space of 24 hours I hear some very liberal women say some or all of these things. Sure we have a broad palette, or at least we are supposed to have, but consider the following:

1) social media is, I suspect predominantly women.. perhaps not here but P interest and Fb? Oh yeah definitely.

2) what we wish people had is not what they have. Vocabularies I suspect are getting smaller due to texting. Just a suspicion. While I'd love it if the USA were filled with Dickens or George Will type folks.. Real word smiths where "scripturient" just rolled of the tongue.. we just don't have that. What we have is "no homo", an accurate representation of our current and I unlikely to change language use.

3) everyone is adhd and overcaffeinated. Brevity is necessary. This post is already tl:dr.

4) our education system is, dare I say it, "so gay", which I admit does a disservice to the lgbt community since they have a high likelihood of attending higher education. Still the usage is technically correct in that many, perhaps most of America still think being gay is somehow wrong, sinful, biologically invalid, etc. I do not share that perspective per se, but considering that I've heard any lgbt folks use these terms... just the other day a gay dude, upon seeing his dog hump another boy dog yells out and points: "no homo!". I knew him.. Tried not to die laughing....

Women say to men all the time: "don't be a pussy". I can still hear Frank Mir's wife say this to him before getting in the ring for an mma title shot. On camera.. in front of millions of people.

I guess when the parties who would feign hurt at hearing these words stop using them themselves,  I shall not argue overmuch. Until them they are colorful. Use them but know your audience.

Oh and by the way I strongly take issue with "man up" being on this list. Strength has been necessarily defined as a male trait since time immemorial. Football, hockey, powerlifting, MMA. These are all areas where men dominate even if women participate. Non participatory women are highly critical of women participants, saying stuff like: "oooh she's too man-ish.. i wouldn't want to look like that."

Strength IS predominantly a male trait. Endurance and persistence of will are not. They are female. Marathon runners tend to be without muscle and larger in the hips than shoulders, like females. Though strength and endurance are relatively synonymous, the difference is large enough to be mentioned.


PS: What would the movie "stripes with Bill Murray and Harold Ramos be without Francis the hypermania dude: "and I don't want any of you HOMES touching me. . Or my stuff. If I catch any of you homes touching me.. or my stuff.. I'll kill ya!!"

Sgt. Hulka: " sit down Francis.."

PPS: i note that the men in the photos are impossibly androgynous and that the women in said photo do look a touch bitchy, just a touch.I

Lily Alice
7:27 AM
I'm not a liberal. I'm not and refuse to be definable or lumped into some group or other by those ever-narrowing terms that cause people to believe we are on sides against each other but...

In respect to how I conduct myself, I'm a very conservative person, particularly regarding language. I love our language and have always wished to hear and see it used better. Specifically for this situation, I dislike language that seems fear-based, and is divisively judgmental. It is something with which I've never been comfortable.

Terms that are meant to be crude or visceral are legion in English and can be used well in their proper setting without making others feel less valuable or respected because of innate characteristics.

Go be an awkward little girl starting school in 1970 for awhile and get back to me on this. Or a 21 year-old woman entering law school that year.

We should be better than labeling people for having concern about the use of labels.

About a hundred things to say or share

So much, so much, but I don't, because my head has too much energy for the rest of me to use. I don't know if that made sense. Here is some blather, broken up by stuff to make it seem less of a chore to slog through.


Toward the end of February, I contracted a virus. Well, a boy did first. He was the sickest of his life, at age 15, and I actually took him to the clinic on a Sunday, where we learned he didn't have the flu, just one of these things you get now and then that sticks to you. And as he was getting better after needing more serious attention than he has in over a decade, I fell ill. Well, I seem to every year at the end of winter, actually, but anyway. It took him over two weeks to be better, took me over three. But now it's been over six weeks, and I'm still not right. It's because of weak lungs, asthma, etc. I need a stretch of two or three days in warm dry sunshine, then I'll be fine.

In the meantime, so much in my head, and I've been sewing, doing puzzles, watching French and Japanese movies, listening to opera, having mini existential crises, and planning a duo of paintings in a similar (though poorly similar, and that's okay by me) style to a few early ones by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, to put on my living room wall.

And someone recently mentioned he'd finally read a great long 19th century piece of literature, which got me thinking.

I make a general goal each year to take some time to appreciate good stuff or go back over great stuff to see or hear it all with a current perspective. But very general, not like when I was 17, or maybe 18, and my brother said I should make a list of good books I never read, and read them, and I sat in a tree in Loose Park with Emma and a bag of almond croissants and fell in love with Mr Knightley. Because I got through only about half the list after that. I mean, directly after that. It's a certainty I've covered it all by now.

Only there's so much else I haven't covered! I'm still lousy at Italian; every time I tackle it, I start reviewing French, instead. Whenever I try to read Ukridge, I find myself back at Blandings Castle. Things like this. So I am making a real list, and I'll make neat lines through it as I go along.

I imagined whistling through the parking lot of Home Depot, as I do, the Habanera aria from Carmen, and someone from the web would call me a poseur, only whatever the word is in 2014 for that, and I'd have to sing it aloud and annoyingly in order to shut them up, but that one line that goes, "Et c’est l’autre que je préfère—Il n’a rien dit mais il me plait" has this rhythm I can't quite get. And I could never match the sheer incredibleness of this, especially at 1.49 or I forget, thereabouts.


Still, that should be on the list, even though the internet, fortunately, tends to stay where it is and not follow people through parking lots.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9.37.50 AM
But look, I have read Ulysses. I get why it's a thing and all, however, I didn't get any pride from it, and on the whole, I'd rather just listen to Kate Bush, only not very young Kate Bush. So the list is just for me, not anybody else, or so I can check off more boxes at a Buzzfeed page and be scored on how very, very special I am, indeed, or almost! if I just try a little bit harder.

Probably I should reach farther, though, is the original point. My comfort zone is wider than many, but not actually much or any deeper.

The conversation after the short bit of rehearsal we are shown amuses me.

So anyway. I'm making a list. Stay tuned.

Faire votre connaissance

That's what was running through my mind over and over again when I awoke after some silly dreams; typical dreams for me, wherein very interesting things are just about to happen, and then are inexplicably and interminably delayed.

Then suddenly this song was in my head. I've never been a great fan of it, but it has lasted, hasn't it?


As I was turning on the lights in my little plant box, I was thinking about that, and of course the name Mungo Jerry came to mind, and before one of my kids could say, "Bob's my uncle," Mun-go Jerrie-and-Rum-ple-Tea-zer came wandering into my brain.


I haven't written about Werther yet, because he might be right; it's the best one we've seen. In a way.

But it always comes back to Frank, and I expect he plans to sing this song to me all morning.  


This weekend I hope to see two movies; The Wind Rises and The Grand Budapest Hotel, and I hope to shore up the plastic greenhouse so I can put a heater in it and start using it, and I hope to make a little marmalade and also write down more stuff and work on my quilt. We'll just see about all that.

Mais, d'apprendre à me connaître dans le matin nécessite de l'energie, n'est ce pas? Only when the sun is shining...

Absolutely nothing of interest, just let me indulge myself with blather

These are my indulgences.

For the next couple weeks, Saturday is the new Thursday, in terms of weekly hair and nail care. I got a new shampoo, Organix Hydrating Macadamia Oil. Can the excitement be borne? I have already been using the Organix Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil Intense Moisturizing Treatment, besides my sort-of monthly olive oil and coconut oil goop treatments.

Probably I'll redo the toenails with the same green as before, Essie, of course, "vested interest." Don't Google it yourself, because there are all these hands polished with it, holding the bottle? And I honestly think it looks terrible on their hands. Truthfully, I don't think darker green or blue looks good on anyone's hands, but on the feet, many more colors can work. At least their cuticles were all right. You can do the most perfect job shaping and painting your fingernails, but if your cuticles are dry, and peeling or cracked, It's like you frosted just the top of an old stale cake.

I haven't bought any of this year's winter colors, but I'm thinking of trying "mind your mittens" next week.

There will be no weekly home spa treatment cocktail tonight, though, because I am having only bland eating for the next few days. Here is what a cocktail might look like, were I to have one.


Thinking about reducing

My sons have helped me determine that I must exercise in a more focused way to lose the Ohio weight because my diet is generally wholesome, balanced, and so forth. But there is a divide in our thinking wherein I can't seem to relate to this "exercise for the sake of exercise" business, which they say leads to a feeling of accomplishment and therefore a drive to do more, but I say leads to mass thought, eventually forming a fascist political party run by a character played by Edward Arnold in pince-nez.
And after all, it's winter, and it's been years since I could just bowl several times a week for free or almost nothing, and I live in Camazotz now, instead of a place that's alive all year round and has a walking culture. (Walking to places, not just in a circle around the block or on a treadmill.)

Well, in my head, my mini golf average is 37. What good does that do anybody? I think the boys understand the point of virtual satisfaction from mindless exercise as they get a lot of mental stimulation from video games, which I've never liked since my mother was addicted to Ms Pacman and I had to watch her play for half an hour on one quarter everywhere we went, because that game was everywhere.

In reality, my bowling average is still over 170, if it didn't require driving to an awful place and paying $4 a game. And I want to weigh what I did in New Jersey where I bowled a lot and also was less afraid to ride my bike on the road. In Cincinnati, they seem to aim cars at bikes frequently. They expect you to drive for miles and then get out and ride the bike on a path, or else be prepared for a trip to the ER and possibly a mortuary.

I like to dig in the garden, and mow the lawn, too, but I didn't do enough of that this summer. And swimming, though as I favor the backstroke pretty heavily but also rather casually, the benefit is probably limited.

In the winter, I'm required to take my exercise indoors because of some reasons, so here we are back at virtual fascism. 

Oh, dear. I just realized someone from Google Plus might read this, maybe the wrong someone. I seem to attract such a linear sort of person there. Thinking I mean things in such a distressingly literal sense. It quite drains me of energy.
Where was I?

Oh, yes. Exercise. I must take some. I know all the right kinds and so forth, of course. But just weighing whatever I did two years ago or five years ago, better still, is hardly enough incentive for that. I like myself much too well to need to rely upon a dress size for emotional satisfaction. On the other hand, there are some dresses in my closet that require the more extreme shapewear and a certain amount of will when it comes to zipping them up; a consideration worthy of notation.

Other people might both blithely and earnestly say regular exercise, even indoors in winter, is good for your brain and the aging process and what-have you, and that would be incentive enough to hit the mat and the hand weights and the bike-on-a-trainer every morning or afternoon. Well, that's a sound reason, but it isn't incentive. I feel it's analogous to finding humor in The Big Bang Theory, though I'm not sure I can vocabulary why.

But don't you worry; vanity will eventually win out and I'll be on the path to broader (by which I actually mean narrower) dress choices by the time Mahler's Fourth hits the Music Hall in late February.

A very short story I wrote this summer...

It's about 3000 words. I planned for there to be a couple more sections, but decided to leave it as it was. It's quite silly.


"How much of this experience do you remember?"

"Oh, all of it! I couldn't forget it if I tried. I did try, a little. But even though a lot of the party seems murky to me, what I did afterwards is too crystal clear."

"And this makes you uncomfortable?"

"I'm a little confused by that. Yes, I'm very uncomfortable. I feel guilty, but…"


"I think I feel guilty for not feeling guilty enough." Taylor raised her eyes, making full eye contact for the first time since the session began. "It was a mistake. I can't let it happen again."

"But you think maybe you want it to, perhaps?"

Taylor nodded, looking down again.

“And you did decide on this plan of action before you got to the party? Do you feel as though you took advantage of him?”

Up to this point, Taylor had appreciated the even, detached manner of her therapist Lisa’s speech. She now detected a note of something more. It wasn’t judgmental, precisely, but it sounded different, with a slight edge, maybe. She replied with care.

“No, I don’t believe I took advantage of him. I mean, I’m new at this. But I’m not a teenager; I was considering his feelings, that is, if he had expressed any deeper ones, or...” Taylor stopped herself. “I knew he was interested in me, but he isn’t interested in serious relationships. He jokes about his brother being tied down. And that’s why I chose him, yes, before the party. Before I had three vodka tonics, before I flirted with him and then brought him home to my apartment. And after I decided it was time to stop, after all these years, being a virgin for someone I’ll never even meet.”

Lisa nodded. “Good. Because you have to own the decision as much as you have to own the consequences of following through on it. Taylor, once you realize you’re ready for mature adult relationships, you get to stop thinking of yourself as a symbol of purity for someone else to take, and start thinking of yourself as a person with sexual desires, with the ability to enjoy a healthful union with a partner who wants to meet your needs just as you’ll want to meet his.”

Taylor sat quietly for a long minute. Then she spoke. “I’m not a symbol anymore, at least.”

“What did it mean to you? Do you believe you’ve given something up? What did you gain?” Lisa’s voice held less tension now, her expression remained placid and receptive as ever.

“It’s been ten years, almost to the day, when I committed myself to this idea. Maybe I shouldn’t feel guilty for breaking my vow to myself, and I know it was silly, but it stood for something important to me. Something I could honor in myself, and be true to.” Taylor stopped, reflecting.

“Why don’t you tell me how it all began?”


“I grew up in an old house in a little town about 30 miles outside the city. I rode the bus to the next bigger town to school, and so the kids I saw at school lived too far away for me to spend much time with them in the afternoons, weekends, and summers. For a few years, I spent most of my play time either by myself or with a girl down the street who was two years younger than me. But when I was 12, a new girl moved in a couple blocks away, and I started doing things with her, as well. She was just a year behind me in school. She lived across the street from a boy I’d known since kindergarten, and had a fierce crush on him. I think he was embarrassed by that and was less friendly to me than he’d always been. Kaitlyn was a little heavy, and wore glasses, and was just sort of a plain girl boys wouldn’t notice at that age. And she was so boy crazy. My other friend was more into sports and had a lot more friends so I saw her less often at that point. The two of them didn’t like each other much, anyway.

“Kaitlyn and I had lots of fun together, walking or riding our bikes to the store, making cookies, listening to music, and even reading teen romance books, which I’d never been interested in before. We watched a lot of movies, and she always had a crush on the young actors, and knew all the gossip about them. Yet at school, boys took no notice of her. I mean, they didn’t really take notice of me, either, but she seemed to have this real need for a boyfriend or for attention that I just assumed would come around later when I was older. We weren’t in the same classes, so I didn’t see her at school, and then I started high school a year before she did, and it was all very different for me. I hadn’t thought about it until now, but I don’t really know how school was for Kaitlyn, whether she had a lot of friends or did well in her classes, even though we spent a lot of time together otherwise.

“When I was 15, I had a sort of boyfriend I’d met at another school, that I didn’t really see much of; we talked on the phone, mostly, and he sent me notes. He wasn’t allowed to chat with me online or anything like that; his parents were very strict and old-fashioned. I think Kaitlyn felt a little separated from me because of him, though they did like each other when they met, and he didn’t really take any of my time from her.

“But a few months after that, my parents were divorced, and Mom and I moved to the edge of the city. I went to a different school, and didn’t see Kaitlyn much anymore. We talked sometimes, and I knew she was now hanging out with another girl from our neighborhood, a girl I always thought was a little wild, but I knew my friend was a good girl like me and wouldn’t get into trouble.”

Here, Taylor paused and laughed, and Lisa smiled. “We see in others what we wish to see, don’t we?”

Taylor said, “Kind of like a mirror, I guess. But I think Kaitlyn just really liked being liked, and I just always assumed people either would or wouldn’t; I didn’t work at it very much.”

“I guess, I’m starting to realize I was really deeply inside my head all this time, not thinking about what was going on inside anyone else’s.”

Lisa said, “Tell me how it was for you at your new school. Did you make friends there?”

“Yes, in a way. For one thing, the previous school was one of those places where all the kids seemed to just ooze money and privilege, and at the new place it was more varied, I guess, different things seemed important. I felt more like I could just be me. And it was just more friendly, kids got along with each other, so I felt connected to it all, even though I was still sort of a loner.

“I can’t even tell you why I didn’t make friends easily. Looking back, I can see people liked me. They do now. But like I said, I think maybe I was just inside my head too much, only I don’t know how to explain that very well. Anyway. This whole story has to do with the last time I saw Kaitlyn, and I keep wandering off track.”

Lisa smiled again, “Tell me what happened.”

“My mom was going away for a business retreat, and didn’t want me to stay alone for that long. I was nearly 18, and wasn’t afraid or unable to take care of myself, but it worried her, so she called Kaitlyn’s mother and they planned a reunion for us. Kaitlyn had a little car her parents had bought her and came to pick me up. That was a revelation for me, and also slightly humiliating because I hadn’t gotten my license yet. But she was friendly and happy to see me, and before we went to her house, we stopped at Sonic for shakes and onion rings. The Sonic was near my old high school where she still attended, and was one of those teen hangouts I’d always wondered about, imagining it like the teen romance books we’d read in junior high. Except it wasn’t the shiny bright place I remembered. The area around it looked somewhat depressed, and I saw a couple people off in the corner of the parking lot obviously making a drug deal.

“Kaitlyn said, all casually, ‘I know the guy in that car. His name is Jim. We were at a party together last week.’

“I was a little surprised, but played it cool, and just asked her how the party was, if she liked Jim. She told me she’d gone there with her friend Brooklyn, you know, her best friend after I moved, and that they’d all started drinking and then Jim shared some X tabs with them."

“That shocked me. I’d always thought of drugs as something sort of alien. A few other people did them, but not really anyone I knew. Kaitlyn told me everyone did, but even then I understood that is the kind of thing people say based on who they hang around with. We’d just been hanging around very different groups. So I tried not to seem judgmental, but I was worried a little, because she told me she couldn’t remember everything that happened that night, as she’d had more to drink than she should have.

"Kaitlyn described the party like it was a fantastic dream, with great music and lights, and people were dancing instead of just sitting around with cups of beer. She’d never felt so happy and felt like she was surrounded by a great group of friends who all loved her. But then she’d gotten a little sick and fallen asleep. She’d woken up at Brooklyn’s house at lunchtime, and Brooklyn told her about having sex with Jim on the back porch of wherever the party was. I asked her if Brooklyn was happy about that, and she said it made her feel really sore and achy the next day, but she was glad she’d done it. And then Kaitlyn said she was kind of mad about having slept through it all, because Jim had started out interested in her, first.

“Kaitlyn asked me if I was still a virgin, and I told her I was, and she said she was, too, but she was ready to change that. I really didn’t know what to say except that I thought maybe she shouldn’t be drunk or high when it happened. At first she acted mad that I’d say that and we didn’t talk anymore while she drove, but by the time we got to her house, she told me she was really happy I cared about her, and that she’d be careful when she did it. What else could I say except I hoped she found the right guy? Inside my head I was thinking, ‘and that he doesn’t think he needs to give you drugs to make it happen.’ Slightly ironic, I know.”


“It’s been awhile since I thought all this through, I mean, nearly ten years, but I remember that whole weekend very well. As it turned out, it was the last time Kaitlyn and I spent any real time together. It was clear we were taking different paths. We did have a fun time, though, and what made it especially nice was seeing how well she now got along with her younger sister, who was about thirteen then. When we were younger, Kaitlyn tended to pick on her or ignore her, but Hannah had matured quite a lot, and was very smart. We included her most of the time we were at the house.

“The second night I was there, we were playing music and dancing around, pretending to be on one of those TV contests, and we were in Hannah’s room, because it was larger. We stood on the bed for a stage, and the other three; a friend of Hannah’s was there, were the judges. Hannah had posters on three walls of Justin Bieber, which was funny to me, because the other wall had a periodic table of elements and a whiteboard with math equations written on it. Hannah’s friend, Kylie, jumped up and down on the bed while she sang and sometimes she’d stop and make kissy faces at Justin. I remember her saying something funny like, ‘Hannah practices making out by kissing her posters.’”

“And I said, ‘Oh, Kaitlyn used to do that with her Puzzle Place puppet!’ I remember thinking she’d be mad at me for revealing that, but she just laughed and said that it came in handy for when she experienced the real thing. Kylie and Hannah talked about a boy they knew at school who would be a perfect kisser, and I reminded Kaitlyn about how much she wanted to kiss the boy who lived across the street. She said, ‘But you just always wanted impossible dates with movie stars, never anyone we’d actually know for real.’” Taylor paused and looked up at Lisa when she said that.

Lisa tilted her head and spoke after a few seconds. “It’s normal to want a fantasy boyfriend at that age, I mean, around thirteen or so. It’s a safe way to explore your desires until you’re ready for the real thing. And yes, to answer your question, some women do continue to fantasize about a celebrity even after they’ve grown up and experienced actual relationships. It can be a healthy outlet as long as it doesn’t supplant reality.”

Taylor replied, “I guess I can understand that. Back then, I just told Kaitlyn I wanted to save myself for someone special. Truthfully, I was scared of sex, I mean, it had this great power, I thought, that could take you over and change you. But the other girls, even Hannah and Kylie, all said they knew how they wanted their first time to be, and Kylie said she hoped she wasn’t still a virgin when she was as old as Kaitlyn and me.”

“I rarely even went out with boys, even in groups. I was convinced the only reason they could be interested in me was for sex, not for who I was or for fun and friendship. So that night, when the other girls asked me who I’d like to be with for my first time, I told them it had to be someone so amazing and special, no one else could compare. Kaitlyn said, ‘You really do want to save yourself for a movie star, don’t you?’ And Kylie yelled, ‘Or a singer! Like Justin Bieber! I’d let him be my first!’”

“So just to get them to stop hounding me about it, I said yes. I was going to save my virginity for Justin Bieber. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. He was just a little older than me. Of course I was going to move to the city after I graduated, and I’d have a great career, we’d run into each other at a party. Maybe I’d be just a little older than the typical virgin, but obviously I’d been putting my studies and plans for the future ahead of that, and he, a high-powered star, would completely understand. I decided I’d be trying to catch a cab in the pouring rain, and he’d offer me a ride in his limousine. We’d talk and find out we had so many things in common. And it would all happen from there.

"I made up my mind to it almost immediately, and then spent the next couple of years adding details and refinement to this plan. And then I kind of put it at the back of my mind, because I really was focused on my studies and plans for the future. And now here we are.” Taylor shrugged her shoulders. “That’s that.”

Lisa said, “I think you left out a great deal of middle, but we will have to take that up again on Thursday. Until then, I recommend you call George, or,” Lisa shook her head a little, “at least text him if that’s how your crowd communicates. But a phone call is better. Write down what you are going to say, if you need to.”

“But what on earth do I say to him? Thank you?” Taylor winced a little, waiting for the answer.

“I think the safest thing to do is apologize if he felt taken advantage of. And then you can go from there, based on his reply. You have a few more issues to sort out, though, so it would be wise to avoid a heavy vodka tonic session for awhile.” Lisa looked a bit stern and motherly as she spoke, but then she smiled, saying, “Once you figure out just what it is you really want from this, you’ll be ready to make the next sober move.”

Taylor sighed. “Thanks, Lisa. I’ll...think about calling him. Or I’ll text. And I’ll call Megan and tell her how much I enjoyed her engagement party...” she trailed off.

“Good. Emily Post would be proud. I’ll see you on Thursday.” Lisa waved Taylor off and sat down to type out her notes, laughing despite her attempt at professional objectivity. “Justin Bieber?”

Shut up, Elton John, I don't feel good right now.

This is Persephone, and I'm going to hold her while I'm sick.

She lights up, too, but that makes my head feel confused so I'm not going to have her do that.

I found her at Walgreen's because I went there to get things before going to bed, being sick. You see, a little over a week ago, the two younger boys got sick. It's some kinda cold or other. But so terrible they are just now recovering. And the whole time, I was fighting that thing, like you don't even know. Just fighting and winning and hanging in there, until suddenly I'm not anymore. And neither is the oldest kid, who has barely had a cold or anything since he was so ill with the swine back in early 2009 and I had to suppress his overactive immune system with gallons of Orange Crush.

And I was trying to find the trash bags and tissues and things, and Elton John would not stop singing "Philadelphia Freedom," and I just couldn't think because it was so, so oppressive, like that song is anyway. Then my son ran across Persephone, and when I held her, it was soothing, but then a terrible Whitney Houston song came on and I felt like crying. It's just such a mean thing to do, and I don't even know how the people who work there can take it.

If you squeeze Persephone's body, her face bulges up, which is neat, because you can pat it like a balloon, but then if you squeezed it too hard, I guess it would pop.

I don't usually have the nose part of a cold, pretty much ever, but I do, and I feel very resentful right now.

Also, I was going to make spiced cranberry wine jelly, only with a bag of mulling spices instead of juniper berries and pepper, but that will have to wait. I'm already bored and I haven't even gone to bed yet. At least I have Persephone to keep me company.